December 21, 2017 // 11:45 a.m.
The UK government has announced that high-speed broadband connectivity - defined as 10 megabits per second (10Mb/s) and upwards - will become a legal right from 2020, as a Universal Service Obligation (USO).
Announced late yesterday by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DMCS), the new Universal Service Obligation (USO) would require that everyone in the UK has access to internet service providers (ISPs) offering connections no slower than 10Mb/s by 2020. Any region with connectivity slower than this will see enforced investment in speeding up their connectivity ahead of the deadline.
A USO is a regulatory device, and one which UK telecommunications backbone giant BT had been working hard to avoid. Back in July the company announced voluntary investment in bringing 10Mb/s connectivity to every home and business in the UK if the government would simply abandon its plan to legally enforce such a requirement - a request which has been summarily rejected.
'We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection,' says Culture Secretary Karen Bradley of the plan and BT's rejected offer. 'We are grateful to BT for their proposal but have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work. This is all part of our work on ensuring that Britain’s telecoms infrastructure is fit for the future and will continue to deliver the connectivity that consumers need in the digital age.'
The USO will require ISPs to provide access to 10Mb/s or greater broadband connectivity to every home and business in the country within a pre-set cost threshold. The minimum speed can also be revised upwards in the future, based on feedback from UK communications regulator Ofcom.